A nationwide petition calling for the urgent introduction of roadside drug testing has been launched in Nelson today by Matthew Dow’s family.
Today marks the first anniversary of Matthew being killed by driver high on meth, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.
“New Year’s Eve should be a time of celebration and hope, but for the Dow family it is the day their son was robbed of his life by a reckless meth user driving like a maniac," says Nick.
"The launching of this petition by Matthew’s family, retired Nelson Bays Highway Patrol Sergeant Terry Richards and myself is about getting drugged drivers off the road.
“Twenty three year old Matthew Dow was tragically killed at 9pm on December 31 2017 in Appleby on SH60 by Alicia Fulcher-Poole. Alicia had been smoking meth earlier that day and was witnessed driving erratically and passing recklessly prior to the accident.
"She was convicted for drugged driving and sentenced to three and a half years in prison," says Nick.
“Matthew’s tragic death was just one of seven fatalities in the Nelson Bay Police District last year where meth or cannabis was identified as a cause or contributing factor, accounting for a third of our region’s fatal road deaths.
“Nationally there were 79 deaths from drug drivers, exceeding for the first time the number killed by drink drivers, which last year was 70.
“It is becoming increasingly more important that we introduce random drug testing with the Government liberalising access to drugs like cannabis," says Nick.
“National MP Alastair Scott’s Members Bill would have allowed police officers to perform roadside drug testing on any driver who they suspected was driving under the influence of drugs.
“I was very disappointed Labour, NZ First and the Greens opposed the introduction of National’s Bill in October to empower police to introduce random saliva testing. The Government is ignoring the evidence on how much drugs are contributing to New Zealand’s rising road toll.
“It does not have a hope of achieving its zero road death target unless it changes its position on drug testing. This petition is about building momentum for reform," says Nick.
“Drug drivers are just as dangerous as drink drivers. We need saliva testing to discourage this reckless behaviour.”
The petition is intended to close 8 May 2019, what would have been Matthew Dow’s 25th birthday, and can be found online at: www.national.org.nz